This post is a part of Nicole Carman’s mental health-related holiday post series, “Taking Care of your Mental Health during the Holiday Season.” It was written and contributed to this post series by Live Mentally Well, who is a Christian mental health blogger I have gotten to know on Twitter.
To see the post line-up for the previous and remaining posts in this series, please visit this page on Nicole’s blog, Navigating Darkness. If you enjoy this post, please comment and consider sharing it on social media!
I spend many holidays alone. My parents are both dead and the rest of my family is scattered. I have my three children but they often spend holidays with their dad as it should be. I have learned ways to eliminate the fear of holiday loneliness.
There are many risk factors involved with loneliness including depression, reduced longevity, Alzheimer’s, reduced immunity. Defensive coping mechanisms can make you self-protective, avoiding social situations to avoid rejection and a defeatist outlook which means expecting or really ready to accept failure.
What Are The Risk Factors For Loneliness?
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Suppresses our immune system
- Stresses Your Cardiovascular Systems
- Chronic Loneliness can affect how long we live
What Are The Defensive Coping Mechanisms of Loneliness?
- Difficulty making new connections
- Avoids more rejection
- Not likely to reach out and initiate contact with anyone
Ways to Overcome Loneliness During The Holidays
Overcoming loneliness requires taking an emotional risk which is very scary for someone with chronic loneliness. Nobody wants to be rejected. Here are some ways to overcome loneliness. Try to have realistic expectations. Meet new people. Use self-care activities and more to have a happier holiday.
Have Realistic Expectations
- Write about your reasons for loneliness: Much of my loneliness stems from isolation during a depression. I often lose friends when I isolate. I lost my sister from a bipolar rage.
- Be kind to yourself and believe you can become less lonely.
- Have realistic expectations: Let go of the past and focus on making things better now.
- Many people struggle with the holidays: Find people who can talk about their struggles.
- Rekindle old friendships and family relationships. Reach out to an old friend. Make a point to spend one-on-one time with friends and family.
Meet New People
- Meet new people: If you are shy, spend time listening to them. I don’t want people to judge me right off the bat so I wait to share my mental illnesses with them. However, I do always share them with others.
- Volunteer: You can contribute your time and skills to a cause that matters to you. You could ring bells for Salvation Army. You could help with Toys for Tots or Operation Bootstrap.
- Contact your local Clubhouse: My local clubhouse has events on the holidays because many of us with mental illness do not have anyone to spend holidays with.
- Join an activity group such as a church or the clubhouse again. Meetup.com is an online option.
- Find a support group online or in-person to help you through this challenging time.
What Are Some Self-Care Activities That Can Help
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy
- Relax with deep breathing, yoga, or a hot bath
- Pray or meditate
- Hike or nature walk
- Limit Social Media. It may make you feel more lonely.
- To connect contact someone directly thru calling or messaging.
Consider getting therapy to help manage your loneliness. Talk about your feelings about the upcoming holidays. Your therapist can help you work through them and come up with more strategies to overcome the loneliness. To learn more about lifelines, check here. Although suicide does not increase during the holidays, it’s still a good idea to have a crisis plan or have
these numbers ready:
- Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-272-TALK